• Third shift returns to build 2011 Chevrolet Cruze
  • Cruze programme $500m investment includes over $350m to revamp Lordstown
  • New fuel-efficient global model for North America is part of GM's product-focused turnaround
Brent Dewar, then global head of Chevrolet, launched the Cruze at the LA motor show late last year

Brent Dewar, then global head of Chevrolet, launched the Cruze at the LA motor show late last year

General Motors last night confirmed it would add a third shift at its Lordstown, Ohio complex, adding 1,200 jobs producing the new GM Daewoo-designed 2011 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan.

As the automaker announced earlier, it is spending $500m to launch the Cruze and that includes over $350m to re-tool the Lordstown.

Production begins in the third quarter and will increase the Lordstown workforce from 3,300 to 4,500. The third shift is expected to generate $47m in additional payroll, $470,000 in local income taxes and $1.4m in state income tax.

Since last July, GM has made announcements that represent about 5,515 new jobs and investment by the company of more than $1.4bn in the United States alone.

"Adding a third shift to build Cruze is an investment with impact far beyond General Motors.  It's an investment in the long-term value of Lordstown and the prosperity of Ohio," said GM North America president Mark Reuss. "It provides rewarding manufacturing jobs and efficient class-leading new cars for American car buyers."

"Lordstown is the latest announcement made by GM to secure the best possible manufacturing footprint to react to market demand and deliver cars and trucks faster to our customers."

GM's Defiance Foundry will build engine blocks for the Cruze's Ecotec engines, the Parma Metal Center will stamp 49 different components for the car and the Toledo Powertrain Center will eventually produce transmissions (engines and gearboxes initially will be imported and the powertrain choice will include a new Ecotec 1.4-litre I4 turbo with variable valve timing for which GM claims hybrid-like performance without the cost). Eighteen Tier 1 suppliers located in Lordstown and Ohio will supply numerous parts and subassemblies.

"Cruze is a perfect example of how GM's turnaround is focused on the right products at the right time," added Reuss. "This is a global car already kicking goals in 60 international markets.  Based on that reaction, we expect the plant will be busy building a hot seller for North America."

Local media noted earlier the third shift at Lordstown would echo a similar move GM made when fuel prices soared for a time in 2008 but that extra shift was later withdrawn following a sharp fall in demand for more fuel-efficient cars.

Last November, just-auto reported that Lordstown was slated to build the Cruze from late this year because GM Daewoo's Gunsan plant cannot meet all the global demand for the car.

Korea's Chosun Ilbo reported Cruze production volume in the US had been forecast at over 100,000 units in 2010 alone and added the plant would also start making the new Spark city car and Orlando MPV in 2011.

In October it was reported GM had delayed the US Cruze sales start by three months to ensure a flawless production launch.

Analysts have said GM is keen to make where it sells and that it has the capacity to make new small cars in the US - which it sees growing volume rapidly - taking pressure off Korean plants working at high capacity.

The 2011 Cruze is the first of a family of new Chevrolet small and compact cars that are designed to offer excellent fuel economy, outstanding quality and top safety ratings. Lordstown will produce Cruze models for the United States and Canada.

The Lordstown complex covers 5m sq ft and includes 25 miles of conveyors. Last year, the facility - which includes on on-site stamping plant - purchased nearly 102,000 tons of steel and recycled nearly 53,000 tons.  Renovations for the Cruze include a new body shop with more than 800 new robotic systems.

Since vehicle assembly started in 1966, Lordstown has produced about 14.3m cars. It currently builds the Chevrolet Cobalt, of which more than 1m have been produced since the 2004 launch, replacing the long-running Cavalier. The Cruze will replace the Cobalt as production ramps up this summer.